Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (3-Disc Blu-ray/DVD) (2016)

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Released 5-Apr-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Sci-Fi Action Featurette-Behind The Scenes-A Rogue Idea (9:00)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Jyn: The Rebel (6:16)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Cassian: The Spy (4:14)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-K-2SO: The Droid (7:43)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Baze & Chirrut: Guardians Of The Whills (6:20)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Bodhi & Saw: The Pilot & The Revolutionary (8:35)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Empire (8:18)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Visions Of Hope: The Look Of Rogue One (8:24)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Princess & The Governor (5:49)
Featurette-Epilogue: The Story Continues (4:15)
Featurette-Rogue Connections (4:31)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Inside The Creature Shop (5:47)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Digital Storytelling (4:20)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 133:57
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Gareth Edwards
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Felicity Jones
Diego Luna
Alan Tudyk
Donnie Yen
Wen Jiang
Ben Mendelsohn
Forest Whitaker
Riz Ahmed
James Earl Jones
Guy Henry
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Michael Giacchino


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Spanish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

††† A lot was riding on 2015ís Star Wars: The Force Awakens since it restarted the live-action Star Wars saga, which is now controlled by the Walt Disney Corporation. But 2016ís Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is equally important, as it kicks off Disneyís master plan for endless Star Wars spinoffs which focus on more minor side stories. Itís not the first franchise detour (the animated Clone Wars movie landed in 2008, and there were Ewok telemovies in the 1980s), but it is the most significant, enjoying an enormous scope and bolstered by first-rate technical specs. This is a wholly different Star Wars, retaining the same sights, sounds and general iconography of the universe but achieving a much grittier tone than ever before. Rogue One is an out-and-out war movie, and thankfully the approach pays off, though pacing issues do emerge as a result of the overly intricate story.

††† An Imperial scientist, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), tries to escape the clutches of the Empire by living a peaceful farming life, but Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) eventually catches up to him, demanding that he return to work. Although Krennic takes Galen hostage and kills his wife, Galenís daughter Jyn (Felicity Jones) manages to avoid capture, and is adopted by rogue extremist Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). Growing up, Jyn hides her true identity from the Empire as she spends time in Imperial captivity until sheís broken free by Rebellion spies, led by Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), who intend to track down Galen. Jynís father was instrumental in designing the Galactic Empireís new heavily-armed space station, the Death Star, and may hold the key to its destruction. Learning that the Death Star plans are stored at an Imperial outpost, Jyn and Cassian are joined by a rogue squadron of Rebels for their risky mission to steal the schematics, including android K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), Imperial defector Bodhi (Riz Ahmed), blind monk Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), and warrior Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang).

††† Instead of an opening crawl in the tradition of the series, Rogue One begins with a taut prologue which sets up the story more effectively than a block of text ever could. Co-written by Chris Weitz (2015ís Cinderella) and Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), this is a talky picture, running at over two hours and packing more than its fair share of exposition. Although director Gareth Edwards (2014ís Godzilla) is able to maintain interest for the most part, the movie does hit its sluggish patches, lacking a thrilling sense of escalation. Put simply, the narrative should be brisker, as itís bogged down by subplots that donít seem necessary in the grand scheme of things. However, whatís particularly laudable about Rogue One is the fact that this is a story about the minor cogs in the machine, as opposed to the big heroes who normally take centre stage in the Star Wars saga. Furthermore, Edwards touches upon the less glamorous aspects of the Rebel Alliance, as many of the soldiers are haunted by things theyíve done in the service of the Rebellion. This is one of several refreshing angles that Edwards manages to explore. Added to this, Rogue One perfectly ties into A New Hope, providing welcome new context for the events of the 1977 movieís iconic opening sequence. Fans can argue about the necessity of telling this story, but the deepening of the Star Wars mythology is fascinating nevertheless, making this feel like Episode IIIĹ.

††† Much like Edwardsí Godzilla, there is a lot of build-up here, but it all pays off for an awe-inspiring finale that seriously delivers. Changing up the standard Star Wars backdrop to incorporate a tropical beach setting, the third act skirmish on the planet Scarif is gargantuan, involving shootouts as well as aerial combat, with loads of Stormtroopers, TIE Fighters and AT-ATs threatening the band of Rebels. The war scenes in the final act are far removed from what weíve come to expect from a Star Wars movie (which is ironic, considering that ďWarsĒ is in the title). Edwards draws upon Saving Private Ryan and a bit of Apocalypse Now to stage the hard-hitting battle scenes, which may be too brutal for young children. The outcome of the mission may be a foregone conclusion, but the specifics are not, and thatís precisely why the climax is so engaging. The well-publicised reshoots did provoke concerns that Disney might dilute the movie, but the seams are never visible - Rogue One doesnít feel like a compromised vision. Instead, itís astonishingly cohesive throughout, sticking with a notably bleak tone all the way through to its powerful ending. Itís certainly not as ďsafeĒ as some had feared.

††† As to be expected, Disney spared no expense bringing Rogue One to life, with the film carrying a rumoured $200 million price tag. The special effects are predictably impressive, and it helps that Edwards shoots for a heightened sense of immediacy. Commendably, Rogue One eschews the regular Star Wars aesthetics - it doesnít feature the standard transitions or an opening crawl, and it only makes infrequent use of recognisable soundtrack beats. Cinematography is darker than before, and itís mostly handheld, though this is not to the detriment of the movie since you can always comprehend whatís happening during the action sequences. Furthermore, there is an impressive sense of tangibility to the fighter ships and Star Destroyers - it looks as if practical models were used as opposed to outright CGI, creating a more convincing illusion than digital effects ever could. However, the production does lack something in the way of visual panache, which comes from the decision to shoot the picture digitally, making it look less majestic than the celluloid photography of The Force Awakens. Interestingly, rumour has it that the original score was rejected for being too far removed from John Williamsí iconic compositions, and composer Michael Giacchino had mere weeks to compose a new soundtrack. To his credit, the music is quite good on the whole, effectively accentuating the experience.

††† There is fan service throughout, with the movie even giving us a glimpse of Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones) on-screen for the first time since 1983ís Return of the Jedi, leading to arguably the movieís best scene. Unused pilot footage from the Death Star assault in A New Hope is even employed, while the frame is often packed with recognisable droids hiding in the background that you may not notice on first viewing. However, less successful is the use of shonky digital effects to resurrect one deceased actor and de-age another (who's now deceased). The intentions are noble, but often the result looks like something from a Pixar movie, instantly taking you out of the movie. Itís 2016, surely they can do better than this.

††† Unfortunately, Rogue One falls short in terms of characterisation, as thereís not enough depth or humanity to the ensemble. Jones manages to impress despite her one-dimensional role which feels like a plot device, but Luna is less successful as Cassian; heís one of the most disposable heroes in recent memory. Faring far better is Krennic, an inspired creation played to perfection by Australian actor Mendelsohn. Krennic is far more engaging than the typical villain, and heís actually given more dimension than the heroes of the story. Mendelsohn undoubtedly delivers the finest performance in the film, surpassing his co-stars with ease. With that said, though, Tudyk is an utter scene-stealer playing the droid K-2SO through motion-capture. A reprogrammed Imperial droid who speaks his mind, K-2SO is a constant source of amusement, delivering an armada of one-liners and a string of uproarious comments. Droids are a staple of the Star Wars universe, making it all the more exciting that this new creation is arguably the sagaís finest to date. Meanwhile, Whitaker almost suffocates the movie with his ludicrous overacting, though Yen manages to carve out a memorable character despite his limited screen-time.

††† Flaws notwithstanding, Rogue One pushes the boundaries of what a Star Wars film can be, and thatís seriously exciting for a long-running franchise like this. (The subtitle A Star Wars Story is actually absent from the film proper.) It succeeds in trying something different, never falling victim to the bland writing or poor direction which ultimately sunk the prequel trilogy. Due to its unique aesthetic and narrative approach, Rogue One is certainly more intriguing than The Force Awakens, but itís not necessarily better - J.J. Abramsí film was zippier and featured better, more fleshed-out characters. The bleakness of this first spinoff does mean that its replay value might be less than the norm for Star Wars, but thatís precisely why it lingers in oneís memory after itís all over. It also makes for a perfect companion piece to A New Hope. There are fears that Disney is going to run Star Wars into the ground, but if all future movies are on the same level as Rogue One or The Force Awakens, the House of Mouse can keep them coming.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† As with last yearís reference-quality Blu-ray release of The Force Awakens, the feature presentation of Rogue One is given an entire dual-layered BD-50 to itself, with all the special features appearing on Disc 2, to maximise the picture quality. The movie itself takes up a staggering 44GB of space of the disc, not including audio streams, and the resulting 1080p high definition presentation is borderline flawless, maintaining a consistently high bitrate for the best possible presentation. Disney is currently the only major studio holding out on 4K Blu-ray, and itís certainly disappointing that another Star Wars film has only been released on standard 1080p Blu-ray, especially given that both The Force Awakens and Rogue One were reportedly completed at 4K and would no doubt be Ultra HD demo material, but itís easy to accept and enjoy this for the time being.

††† No matter the environment or shooting conditions, the AVC-encoded presentation remains stable, sharp and highly detailed from start to finish, effortlessly doing justice to the digital source. Rogue One is an expensive blockbuster, and the filmmakers put a lot of effort into the sets and costumes in every scene, making for pure eye candy in high definition. Shots in space look razor-sharp, with perfect object delineation, and you can make out every nook and cranny in the Star Destroyers and other spaceships. Close-ups reveal a high amount of texturing on faces, and the encode even makes the CGI Peter Cushing look a bit more convincing than it did at the cinema. Rogue One never looks smeary at any point, even in fast-moving shots, owing to the smart encode and high bitrate, which is miraculous for a standard BD.

††† A fine layer of source noise coats the image, but it was present in the cinema and it by no means blemishes the visual experience. On the contrary, it creates a more cinematic texture (it was filmed digitally with Arri Alexa rigs, as opposed to celluloid like The Force Awakens), and above all itís well-defined, rather than blocky or unsightly. Not to mention, removal of the noise would only detract from of the presentationís incredible texture. Luckily, my discerning eyes picked up no encoding issues. Thereís nothing in the way of aliasing, macroblocking, or even crush despite the darkness of many of the movieís scenes. Even a scene which takes place on a dark, rainy night on Eadu never falters, while the star fields in space look deep and rich. Itís smooth sailing across the board, ranking up there with the likes of Captain America: Civil War which looks equally stunning.

††† The only real issue with the presentation is that the colour looks a tad flat, and therefore the image lacks some dimensionality. Yes, the colour palette is intentionally drab to some extent, but it could nevertheless be better represented on disc. This is especially felt in darker scenes, which do maintain a high level of detail but nevertheless lack ďpop.Ē But this is due to the limitations of standard 1080p Blu-ray, which has a restricted colour space - a 4K release with a HDR grade would undoubtedly improve the image in this respect. Also, perhaps at times, the video looks a bit too smooth and in need of a textural boost, though this is very minor. Again, I wish that Rogue One was receiving a 4K BD release for its home media debut, but it nevertheless looks so great on standard Blu-ray that itís easy to live with until the inevitable UHD double dip. At this point, Rogue One is the best-looking 1080p release of the year.

††† Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish. I found the English track to be completely free of issues, and easy to read.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† Disneyís audio mix on The Force Awakens did draw criticism from some, who had said that the sound lacked punch and was hollow on the whole, much like the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron. However, I had no problems with the audio mix on The Force Awakens, and thankfully, Rogue One sounds spectacular on Blu-ray, with a lossless DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix that brings the cinema experience to your living room. Yes, audiofiles are destined to complain yet again about the curious lack of a Dolby Atmos mix, but I only have a 7.1 setup and therefore this mix is good enough for me.

††† Dialogue is well-prioritised throughout; itís always easy to hear and comprehend even during the loud action sequences. I initially thought it was mixed a tad too low, but thatís only because the sounds of explosions, laser blasts and ships need to be so loud compared to the dialogue, to heighten their impact. And boy, is there impact during the big action set-pieces, during which the track really roars to life. When a TIE Fighter is shot down and crashes into a gun turret, the rumble from the subwoofer is enough to shake the walls. When shuttles and ships take off, the subwoofer accentuates the power of their exhaust. Surround channels are consistently engaged, making for a truly immersive soundscape during the large-scale battles. During a rainy scene on Eadu, you could believe itís actually raining outside. Giacchinoís original score comes through with clarity, too.

††† This state-of-the-art lossless audio track is precise, clear and immersive, making it another winner for Disney. There are no encoding issues either; no problems with audio sync, dropouts or instances of muffled sound. Disney will likely reserve a Dolby Atmos or DTS:X track for the Ultra HD Blu-ray release, though itís difficult to imagine such a mix offering much in the way of improvement. The disc also contains lossy 5.1 audio in French and Spanish, for those interested.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† This limited edition (exclusive to JB Hi-Fi) contains the same second disc as the standard edition, and adds an additional DVD with more extras.

Disc 2:

The Stories (HD; 68:58)

††† This submenu provides a number of behind-the-scenes featurettes, totalling almost 70 minutes of content. Like most of Disney's supplemental material, itís fascinating but all a bit ďsafeĒ on the whole, making the filmmaking process look completely smooth. It avoids delving into any production issues or the need for the well-publicised reshoots. I would have preferred something more in-depth and candid. Itís also quite intriguing that for a movie with such thin characters, the majority of the featurettes are about said characters. These segments can either be played separately or through a ďPlay AllĒ function. Itís mighty disappointing that this set is without a beefy documentary like The Force Awakens, but through the ďPlay AllĒ function, this feels like a full-length doc.

Rogue Connections (HD; 4:31)

††† The final extra on this disc points out all the little Easter Eggs and references to other Star Wars movies and television shows. Cameos are pointed out (The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson plays a Death Star crew member), as well as vehicles and droids that have been seen in this universe before. Very cool stuff.

Disc 3:

††† One would assume that an additional DVD would provide plenty more in the way of special features, but we only get a scant eleven minutes of featurettes. Itís baffling that this stuff wasnít included in the ďStoriesĒ submenu on Disc 2, since it feels exactly in line with the other segments. What a waste of an extra DVD.

Inside The Creature Shop (SD; 5:47)

††† This extremely good quality featurette is concerned with the creatures, logically enough. The filmmakers relied on practical effects, puppets and animatronics as much as possible, and itís fascinating to see the process of creating them, and the on-set footage when theyíre brought to life.

Digital Storytelling (SD; 4:20)

††† In this featurette thatís again much too short, the cinematography is discussed, with shots being framed specifically to create a heightened impact, and the use of practical LED screens on-set during scenes inside ships to augment the sense of realism and let the actors see what is happening. Edwards is seen operating the camera a fair bit through all the supplemental material, and his efforts are talked about here. Edwards did perform cinematographer duties on his debut feature Monsters, so it makes sense that he would want to be so hands-on.
†††

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † This three-disc edition contains the most complete set of extras released to date. Expect a double dip in the future which reconciles these extras and offers a bit more.

Summary

††† As a long-time Star Wars fan, I found Rogue One to be a worthwhile addition to the official canon, and a great start to the spinoff adventures. The franchise is in safe hands for the time being.

††† Disney's Blu-ray is extremely good. The technical presentation is as close to flawless as one could realistically expect from a 1080p Blu-ray, making this demo material for the format. The extras are a bit light on the whole, though the added DVD in this set makes it a better option. All things considered, this set comes highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Saturday, April 15, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSamsung UBD-K8500 4K HDR Blu-Ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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